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ECJ to rule on the biometric passports

10 October, 2012

This article is also available in:
Deutsch: EuGH befasst sich mit biometrischen Reisepässen

The Dutch administrative court asked the European Court of Justice (ECJ) whether the EU Regulation obliging member states to store fingerprints in passports and travel documents infringes the right to privacy.

This is a result of four cases in which Dutch applicants had been refused the issuing of their passports because they did not accept to provide their fingerprints. Since 2009, the Netherlands has introduced the obligation to store fingerprints in passports and identity cards. The fingerprints were stored in a database to be used for investigation purposes, but recently, the storage has been suspended. The Dutch court referred the cases to ECJ asking, among other things whether it should be safeguarded whether the fingerprints are used for no other purposes than the issuance of a passport or identity card.

The cases are suspended pending the answers of the European Court of Justice. The Dutch court also asked questions on the biometric ID card and function creep.

Similarly, in Germany, following a law suit brought to the Administrative Court Gelsenkirchen by a German citizen who had been denied the issuance of his passport for having refused to provide his fingerprints, the German court has challenged the same EU regulation to ECJ.

The German court considers the EU has no legislative competence to enact rules on standards for security features and biometrics in passports and travel documents as there is no direct relation of such rules to the protection and security of EU external frontiers. Such rules should comply with the right to privacy as covered by the European Convention on Human Rights and the protection of personal data. "Is Article 1(2) of Council Regulation (EC) No 2252/2004 of 13 December 2004, as amended by Regulation (EC) No 444/2009 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 6 May 2009, valid?" was the court’s question.

The Council of State asks questions to the Court of Justice in Luxembourg about stored fingerprints for passports and identity cards (only in Dutch, 28.09.2012)

German Court challenges EU Regulation on security standards for passports and travel documents (3.10.2012)

German ECJ case

EFF: Highest Court in the European Union To Rule On Biometrics Privacy (15.10.2012)

Case C-291/12, Michael Schwarz – No fingerprints? No passport. An invalid EC Regulation?

(Thanks to Ot van Daalen - EDRi-member Bits of Freedom - Netherlands)



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